…is devoted to the proposition that each of us has powerful and interesting stories to tell if we do the work to find them.
You may also find my thoughts on Instagram (@drnoir33) and on my Doctor Noir YouTube channel. I hope to see you there!
June 3, 2023: I am taking a break from revising my Interrogating Memory book to immerse myself in the songs and videos of the early 1980s – essentially, my high school years/first Reagan Administration. Fun fact – I own (on my iTunes) the top 14 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 from the week I turned…14 (September 28 – October 4, 1980).
#14. “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
#13. “All Over the World” Electric Light Orchestra
#12. “Fame” Irene Cara
#11. “Real Love” The Doobie Brothers
#10. “Xanadu” Olivia Newton-John/Electric Light Orchestra
#9. “Lookin’ For Love” Johnny Lee
#8. “I’m Alright” Kenny Loggins
#7. “Woman In Love” Barbara Streisand
#6. “Late In the Evening” Paul Simon
#5. “Drivin’ My Life Away” Eddie Rabbitt
#4. “Give Me the Night” George Benson
#3. “Upside Down” Diana Ross
#2. “All Out of Love” Air Supply [Oops, I thought I had this, but I do not…oh well.]
#1. “Another One Bites the Dust” Queen
Curiously, six of these songs (13, 12, 10, 9, 8, 6) are from movie soundtracks. This is also a very backward-looking list, as only Air Supply and Irene Cara are chart newcomers in 1980. For what it’s worth, I own two of the Top 10 albums that week: Panorama (The Cars) and Hold Out (Jackson Browne) – and 10 of the Top 50.
May 20, 2023: When my genetic father Grant Weldon Stivers was a junior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, MD, he escorted a sophomore named Lucy F. Sanderson to the Sno-Ball. Ms. Sanderson was one of 10 vying to be crowned Sno-Ball Queen; she was not selected. The date was December 16, 1961. Providing “dreamy music” that evening was Lee Maxfield and his Orchestra. Curious about Mr. Maxfield, I searched Newspapers.com and learned he was a fairly popular band leader in the area.
One particular advertisement struck me, though (October 18, 1962 Montgomery County [MD] Sentinel, pg. 18):
“Dress optional,” really? What was up with the Women of the Moose? And why was I not invited…oh, right, I would not be born for another four years.
May 19, 2023: A month or two ago, for various reasons, I began to watch episodes of the 1950s-1960s panel game show What’s My Line? While Arlene Francis and Bennet Cerf were solid, I was particularly struck by how quick-witted and intelligent columnist Dorothy Kilgallen was. Only recently, though, did I learn she died in her Manhattan townouse on November 8, 1965 from an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol. She was only 52 years old.
And then I learned Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists are convinced she was murdered because of what Jack Ruby had told her in a private conversation in his jail cell, after his arrest for the murder of alleged Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (I write “alleged” solely because Oswald never had a trial). Or something like that, anyway.
Curious, and always on the lookout for ways to promote my notion of “interrogating memory,” I systematically searched on Newspapers.com for mentions of her starting with the announcement of her death.
What I wanted to learn was – just when and how did a tragic death morph into a murder?
INTERROGATING MEMORY UPDATES!
Video introduction. This is the second video I posted to my “Doctor Noir” channel on YouTube.
Revisions galore. I am currently deep in the research weeds learning new information for the revised and updated – and less expensive – paperback edition of my book Interrogating Memory: Film Noir Spurs a Deep Dive Into My Family History…and My Own. As a result, however, my plan to record myself reading the book as 11 or 12 “podcasts” is on hold.
Catching your eye. Interrogating Memory was recently designated a “next great read” (along with 37 other books) in an Instagram post from the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. I remain deeply humbled by their interest in my book, which, among other things, is a heartfelt love letter to Philadelphia.
Local events. On September 15, I participated in Hummingbird Books’ first Local Author Fair. The event was a success, in large part because of the deep literary talent pool in the Boston area.
WHAT IS THIS WEBSITE?
The purposes of this website are…
ONE, to tell stories with data, as in this map showing the current “electoral geography” of the United States, at least at the presidential level.
Two, to describe, promote and sell my books, be it through BookShop, Amazon (and similar online retailers) or this very website.
My story-telling style—call it “annotated meandering”—inspired this site’s name.
I do always get to the point, though…eventually.
Just bear with me.
WHO AM I?
Click here to learn about Matt (aka Dr. Noir).
WHAT KIND OF STORIES DO I TELL HERE?
Broadly speaking, I write essays – tell stories – about topics in three areas:
- My own life (see below)
- American politics – including calls for bipartisanship and mutual respect
- Popular culture – primarily film/television and music
Within film/television, I have written a great deal about film noir, but also about Charlie Chan films, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and what makes a pleasure (in this case, film) “guilty.”
I write about other topics as well, including our lives during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, baseball, epidemiology and public health, true crime and anything else about which I can tell a good story.
I ALSO WRITE BOOKS!
Far more often than I had expected, I tell stories from my own life, using what I call “contextualized introspection.” My first (self-)published book, Interrogating Memory: Film Noir Spurs a Deep Dive Into My Family History…and My Own, is precisely in this vein. And while supplies last, you may purchase a signed copy through this website for only $25, a savings of more than $10 off the Amazon list price. You may also purchase it as an ebook.
Interrogating Memory began as an attempt to turn an essay about why I love film noir into a full-length book. At the same time, I was undergoing genetic testing, exploring my own personal “origin story” and using tools like Ancestry and Newspapers to help me contextualize my “journey” within a larger American immigrant story. I coined the term “interrogating memory” to describe this process – and one of the first things I learned was that the death of my paternal great-grandfather David Louis Berger made the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer more than 100 years ago.
I recently received my first – wholly unsolicited – review, and I could not be more grateful and humbled. David Mayhew wrote: “Greatly have I enjoyed your new book, which kept me glued! It all flows well. Film noir is a real fetching theme! What an expert and connoisseur you are!” Other writers such as Larry Harnisch (“It’s a good one!”) and Morgan Richter (“I am enjoying it immensely.”) have also praised it.
I have now begun to write my second book, tentatively titled Meet Me at the Counter: A Life in Diners. Indeed, the photograph at the top of the page shows the sorely-missed ValeRio diner, which once sat on Route 23 in Phoenixville, PA, at the intersection with Route 113 North. It features prominently in a number of posts – such as those having to do with constructive dialogue and healthy skepticism.
At least…that was what I began to write until I inadvertently stumbled upon the January 1909 statutory rape trial of Adelaide “Addie” Burns – who just happened to be the first wife of my wife Nell’s paternal grandfather. I now plan to write a book about this trial, grounding it in both the aftermath of the Civil War (tens of thousands of dead fathers, husbands, sons and brothers) and the distinctive social mores – including nativism, misogyny, and Congregationalist (read: Calvinist) attitudes toward poverty and crime – of Connecticut at the time.
I am also considering writing books about prognostication in the 2022 midterm elections and film noir, drawing more extensively from my Excel database.
WHAT ELSE WILL YOU FIND HERE?
The Noir of Who: Classic Film Noir’s Imprint on the Resurrected Doctor Who
WHAT DO I ASK FROM READERS?
Just continue to bear with me, while inviting others to do the same. I am grateful to everyone who clicks “Like” and comments in a respectful way: it truly is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.
I invite you to follow me on Instagram @drnoir33.
Please also check out my Interrogating Memory book. I think you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Then keep an eye out for new essays and my upcoming The Burns Woman and Life in Diners books.
And if you enjoy what you read here, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation.
HOW CAN YOU CONTACT ME?
I want to hear from you!
Please click here to offer your thoughts, ask me questions – or just say Hello!
2 thoughts on “JUST BEAR WITH ME…”
Wow I lost track of you! Congratulations on starting your second book!!!
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Thank you! I had actually started writing A Life in Diners before stumbling upon the Addie Burns trial. I have been living in late 19th / early 20th century Connecticut ever since. 🙂
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